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Your Money: Avoiding tax scams during filing season

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Your Money: Tis the season for giving, but it’s complicated

Taxes are one of life’s two certainties. But we might add a third one: ploys during tax season that attempt to steal your identity — and possibly your refund.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb

Between January and April, authorities expect a rash of tax-related phone and email phishing scams and identity-theft cases. There are two common varieties of tax fraud, one that involves Social Security numbers (SSNs) that purportedly have some sort of suspicious activity attached to them, and another that threatens people with a tax bill from a fictitious government agency.

The first involves scammers who use email or a phone call to threaten to cancel or suspend the victim’s SSN due to overdue taxes. Fraudsters pose as IRS agents, who threaten their targets with an arrest and legal prosecution unless they pay the fine “immediately.” Remember, the IRS doesn’t engage taxpayers with email, phone calls, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information.

The second scheme involves mailing an official-looking letter that threatens an IRS lien or tax levy owed to some not-existent government agency such as the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” The letter tries to scare the recipient into paying the fine using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. (Note: The IRS never uses these forms of payment.)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN TAX IDENTITY SCAMS

Tax identity theft is especially difficult to detect before the fraud occurs. But here are common telltale signs:

• If your federal income tax return has already been filed by someone else using your Personal Identifiable Information (PII), they may try to shortstop your refund. Then, when you file your legitimate return, the IRS will send you a notice letter indicating that your refund has already been issued.

• Sometimes, thieves who have stolen your SSN will use it to obtain employment and not pay taxes. But even if the scammer’s employer does withhold taxes, their employer will report those earnings to the IRS. Once the IRS catches the discrepancy, it will send you an action letter stating that you’ve failed to declare all of your income.

• Over the past two years, there’s been an outbreak of COVID-19 scams related to economic impact payments, whereby identity thieves use calls, texts and email phishing attempts to ask you to verify or provide your financial information so you can get a government payment or refund faster.

Victims of tax identity fraud usually only find out that they’ve been scammed when the IRS refuses to process the legitimate return because the indicated “taxpayers” have already filed returns and refund checks have been issued. Sorting this out can be a big hassle.

FIVE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AVOIDING TAX IDENTITY THEFT

Here are five steps you can take to avoid being victimized:

Secure your sensitive information. Never send personally sensitive information via email or text. The IRS will never contact you via these methods, so if you receive email or text requests that look like they come from the IRS, ignore them. If you file online, always use a secure connection.

File early. If you have the ability to file your return early, do so. The IRS processes returns mostly on a “first come, first served” basis, and filing early takes the advantage of time delays away from criminals.

Protect your Social Security number. Be very suspicious if (1) you receive a letter from the IRS about a tax return you did not file; (2) are not permitted to e-file your tax return because of a duplicate SSN; (3) receive a notification that an online IRS account has been created in your name when you never took any action; or (4) you get a notice from the IRS claiming that you received wages from an unknown employer.

Check your credit report regularly, at least once a year. You can download your credit report for free once a year at freecreditreport.com during tax season and place a credit freeze if necessary.

Sign up for an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN). Last year, the IRS made its IP PIN program available for all taxpayers. Previously only available to victims of identity theft or taxpayers in certain states, the IP PIN is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent fraudsters from filing phony returns using your PII.

If you or your business has been victimized by tax-related identity theft, contact the police or FBI, and visit the IRS.gov website to learn about further actions you can take.

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UCF offers Daytona Beach Mainland 2024 safety Zay Mincey

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UCF offers Daytona Beach Mainland 2024 safety Zay Mincey

The last few players rom Daytona Beach Mainland High to play for UCF turned out to be quite productive. Knights coaches are hoping 2024 safety Zavier “Zay” Mincey is next.

Mincey was offered a scholarship by UCF on Tuesday, one of numerous offers the big defensive back — 6-foot-3, 190 pounds — has picked up recently. Mincey now has 13 offers from schools including Auburn, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, so the Knights have their work cut out for them to win him over,

Mincey, a multi-sport standout, competed at the Florida Track and Field Championships in Gainesville this past week. He didn’t have his best performances, but finished 10th in the long jump (21 feet, 4¾ inches) and 11th in the high jump (5 feet, 11½ inches).

Last season for Mainland, Mincey averaged 3.2 tackles per game and had 1 tackle for loss. He also had 2 interceptions and 6 pass deflections.

The recent history of success for Mainland players at UCF was highlighted by the self-proclaimed fastest man in college football Adrian Killins, who finished his UCF career as the fifth-best rusher in UCF history with 2,459 career rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. Killins was last in the NFL as a roster player with the Denver Broncos. He is a free agent.

Offensive tackle Marcus Tatum also had a solid stay at UCF after transferring from Tennessee. Tatum earned all-AAC honors in each of his final two seasons as a Knight. Tatum recently signed a free-agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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The Staircase Episode 5: May 19 Release, Time And Plot Speculations

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The Staircase Episode 5: May 19 Release, Time And Plot Speculations

An American crime drama mini-series, The Staircase, will release its 5th episode on May 19th. The episode titled “The Beating Heart” would air on HBO Max. The true-crime drama is created by Antonio Campos and stars Colin Firth and Toni Collette as the main protagonist. The drama is based on the famous Michel Peterson trial.

Produced by Annapurna Television, What’s up Films, and Emi pop, the mini-series is distributed by Warner Bros Discovery Global Streaming & Interactive Entertainment. Michael Stuhlbarg, Sophie Turner, Dane DeHaan, Olivia DdeJonge, Patrick Schwarzeneggar, and Rosemarie DeWitt assist Firth and Collette in their roles play important characters in the drama.

Here’s all you need to know before watching the episode.

Michael Peterson Trial

Based on a true crime story and the docuseries by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade with the same name; the Staircase premiered on HBO Max on May 5th; and received great, positive reception for the stellar cast performances (especially by Firth).

It is based on the Michael Peterson trial, which was a pretty deal as it remains one of the longest trials in the history of North Carolina. In 2001, Peterson’s wife, Kathleen, was reported by him to be found unconscious; at the bottom of the stairs in their home in Durham, North Carolina.

She was later declared dead, and her autopsy result showed that she died of several injuries that hint at homicide.

Peterson was bisexual; and that upon finding his sexuality and his adultery with another male, Kathleen had confronted him. And in a bid of rage, he had killed her. The American novelist was arrested on the charge of murdering his wife in 2001.

In 2003, he was guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, getting released in 2011.

1652901008 32 The Staircase Episode 5 May 19 Release Time And Plot

The Staircase Episode 5: What To Expect? Plot Speculation 

The eight-episode mini series following the trial and appeal period of Michael Peterson will be releasing its 5th episode coming May 19th.

The last episode saw the trial reaching its final verdict; with Elizabeth Ratliff’s autopsy result coming to the forefront, giving the whole case a new perspective. Ratliff have injuries similar to Kathleen; and it is proven that Peterson is the last person to be with her before she was found dead the next morning.

It leads to further doubts in Martha and Margaret, Elizabeth’s daughters and Michael’s adoptive daughters, who have started to turn against him.

The next episode (episode 5) will have the viewers see the consequences of the verdict that Peterson; and his family would be dealing with and the full aftermath of the jury’s decision.

On the other hand, the last episode also left viewers at a stump when it revealed during the 2017 documentary interview that Sophie Brunet has been with Peterson for the past 12 years.

When And Where To Watch Episode 5? 

Episode 5 of The Staircase will release and available to stream on HBO max on May 19th, Thursday at 3 AM ET.

The post The Staircase Episode 5: May 19 Release, Time And Plot Speculations appeared first on Gizmo Story.

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2 killed in Anoka crash that following police pursuit

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2 killed in Anoka crash that following police pursuit

ANOKA, Minn. (AP) — Two men died after fleeing from an attempted traffic stop and later crashing into a pickup truck in Anoka County, sheriff’s officials said.

Police in Coon Rapids tried to make the traffic stop shortly before midnight Tuesday. The driver took off and police pursued the car, but broke off the chase once the vehicle crossed into Anoka.

Officials said the car and pickup collided about a mile away. The force of the crash took down at least three light poles, according to witnesses.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. His passenger died at a nearby hospital. The driver of the pickup was treated for minor injuries. The victims have not been identified.

The crash remains under investigation by the Anoka Police Department, Coon Rapids Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.

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